Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

The Family Computer: Cleaning

You can clean your computer. No, don’t break out the sponges! Vacuuming is a great way to make sure you get the most dust out of your computer, resulting in better connections.

A hose and brush attachment are the best tools for the vacuuming. The soft brush end will loosen dust, allowing the vacuum to remove more. If your machine has a high and low setting, use the high setting for all of the open air holes around the computer tower. If you are familiar with your computer, you can remove the tower cover and carefully vacuum inside of the case, being cautious to not disturb wire connections.

If you live in an area with a lot of dust, such as on a dirt road or you have a gravel driveway, do this once a week at least.

For cleaning the keyboard, alcohol and a cotton swab work well. Turn off the computer, then dip the swab into a small amount of alcohol (normal rubbing alcohol). Clean each key with the swab. You can also use the vaccum and brush attqachment to remove any dust and debris. Turn the keyboard upside down, vacuum, then lie down and vacuum again.

You can use wipes on the monitor that are safe for electronics. The same wipes can be used on the entrie computer, just avoid power connections and make sure the computer is not connected to a power supply during cleaning.

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Computer Games:Virtual Lives

If you have not heard of Second Life, it is not surprising. Most of the popular video games that people are very familiar with are on gaming consoles such as Xbox, Playstation, and Wii. Even if someone does not have a computer, these gaming systems are known.

But virtual reality games such as WarCraft and Second Life are very popular online. These are not virtual reality in the sense that you need special goggles or headphones, but virtual worlds. With Second Life you can build what is called an avatar and it can look like virtually anything you can imagine. The most popular avatars are human and human-like.

Second Life has received a lot of bad press due to the availability of sex in cyber form. The game is open to people 18 years or older and yes, you can find quite a bit of sex if you look for it. Sometimes if you are not looking for it. For those who wish to avoid the sexual overtones, there are a lot of PG rated sections open.

People often go to Second Life to escape from their ‘First Life’ or RL (real life) as it is known on Second Life. They build friendships, romances, and even commercial empires. The systems uses cash, much like real life, but there the dollar (or euro, or pound,) is the Second Life Linden. Lindens can be purchased through the game’s main site, on the game at exchanges, or you can get a virtual job and make lindens.

I have visited Second Life and found it to be very interesting. You can meet people from all walks of life, all over the world. Unlike chat rooms and instant messaging, your avatars speak ‘face to face’. It gives the meetings and conversations a new life and depth.

There are pros and cons to any online virtual world which include finding yourself addicted to the ‘life’ you build. In moderation the game is fun, offering new ways to express yourself and meet others. In a recent discussion with another Second Life Member, ‘Brett‘, he pointed out that the virtual world and romances built are a wonderful outlet for people who may not have a way to leave their homes. People with phobias, those who are handicapped, or those who just have very bad social skills can become ‘new’ people in this world.

I agree with ‘Brett’. Though I have the opinion that all issues can be overcome to allow most people to incorporate themselves into the real world, Second Life can be a learning experience for those who need help interacting.

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Ten Gas Saving Tips

If you live in the US, then you are feeling the bite from rising gas prices. Nearly everything purchased has seen a hike in cost due to the rising cost of gas. Since prices are not going to come down any time soon, why don’t we discuss how to save gas, which in turn saves you money.

1. Keep your car tuned. A tune up can reduce the amount of gas used.

2. Have your air filter checked and changed if needed during oil changes.

3. Keep your tires inflated properly.

4. Clean out your trunk. Extra weight = more gas used.

5. Slow down. Wind resistance increases as you go faster, using more gas.

6. Don’t idle. If you aren’t moving, you’re wasting gas. So don’t idle at the curb, store, or friend’s house!

7. Combine errands, get to know your area. Try to shop and do other errands in the closest proximity possible. Saving a few cents on groceries by driving 20 miles out of your way (even 10) still causes you to spend more on gas.

8. Do not drive all over a parking lot looking for the closest spot to the store. It wastes gas, just take the first one open. You save time, gas, and get a little exercise.

9. If possible, combine shopping trips with your neighbors. Take turns driving each week (or your preferred schedule) and chip in on gas.

10. Walk when possible. Again, get to know your area. A 30 minute walk is free no matter how you look at it.

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Read Labels When Shopping–Always

You’re thinking: I don’t have time to read the labels, grocery shopping is chaotic enough. You’re envisioning what that trip to the market will be like if you stop to read every label: The six-year-old will decide to ride the cart backwards, the three-year-old will start screaming that he must have Cocoa Puffs now (when you don’t even normally buy them) and the darling baby three aisles over who is wailing has caused you to let down, which is making your sweetheart in the sling wake up. So maybe that’s not what your trip to the market is like, but in some way, we can all relate; so stopping to check every label before tossing an item into the cart is probably the last thing on your mind. But wait, the cost of not reading the labels could be dangerous to your family.

In July 2007 the FDA issued a warning about and recall of counterfeit toothpaste being sold in Canada and the United States. The toothpaste was recalled because it contains diethylene glycol (DEG), a poisonous chemical used in antifreeze and as a solvent. DEG is a central nervous system depressant and potent kidney and liver toxin and as a solvent. The toothpaste was made by Chinese manufacturers and was sold primarily to bargain retail outlets, the report said. The Among the brands counterfeited was Colgate, a name we know and trust. Since the initial warning, the toothpaste has not been removed from all shelves and has been found on the shelves of smaller stores and pharmacies as recently as this month–eight months later.

The differences in the real and counterfeit products are not easy to spot, especially at first glance and when you’re in the middle of either a quick run to pick something up or under the gun of making it through the market before the kids completely meltdown.

The labels of the counterfeit toothpaste read that they are Made in South Africa, sanctioned by the South African Dental Association, or have typographical errors on them.

So, despite the chaos that a trip to the market can bring, be vigilant and read the labels carefully, even of the products that you think are ones that you know and trust.

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Home Safety: Home Invasion

Last night my husband told me about something that is possibly an Urban Legend, but is still disturbing no matter where you live. It seems that, according to the reports, a new gang has moved into our area. They are supposedly ‘bumping’ cars with theirs, then when the people in the car that was hit stop, they execute them, gangland style. Not only this, but their activities have stepped up to home invasions.

Even if this is not true, I felt that I should address home safety. A home invasion is terrifying. Your home is your private area, a place to be relaxed and with the ones you love. Even if you are single, your home is your sanctuary.

So what can you do to protect yourself and your family against a home invasion?

1. Install real or ‘dummy’ cameras at your home. Key areas to place them are the corners of your home, facing the entire yard and entrance areas. Home invaders are less likely to attack a home with cameras in view, real or fake. They have no idea if the cameras are real, especially if the cameras come with a battery operated ‘on’ light.

2. Alarms for your windows and doors. You can purchase alarms that make a very loud, high pitched noise that are activated by magnets. These can be put on nearly any surface which make them very handy. These are often advertised on television and are much lower in cost that traditional alarm systems which can be too costly for the average family. Another plus is that even if you rent, you can use these alarms and take them with you if you move.

3. Motion lights can be purchased and installed in the darker areas of your property. Motion lights can be low cost if found on sale at your local hardware store. You can also purchase night lights that are activated by motion or sound and place them in each room of your home. This can completely un-nerve a would be home invader who does not want to be seen!

4. Keep all entrances to your home locked. Deadbolts may not stop a home invader, but it can slow them down. Entrances that are rarely, if ever used by your family can even have two deadbolts, especially if you live in a high crime area.

5. Most of the time, any home invader will not try for a home with a dog. This does not mean that a dog will completely deter someone who is determined. It has been proven that a burglar who steals from homes for a living will befriend a dog while casing a home. Even the most well trained dog can be enticed by treats or stopped by a weapon. In the case of home invasion that is on the spur of the moment, a dog can be invaluable in stopping your home from being a target.

Posted in Uncategorized, Personal Safety | 4 Comments »

Beyond the Sandwich: Making Use of Holiday Left-overs

We’re hosting Easter dinner this year for the extended family of 15, which means that despite the gazillion-pound ham that I bought at the market yesterday, there will be left overs. There always are. And of course, with left overs comes the lingering question of what to do with them to make them interesting for the next couple of days, and maybe even for a not-too-distant lunch, snack or dinner. Sure, I could send some home with the family as they each depart for their own homes, but that still leaves whatever is left for us to contend with. Whether you’re having ham, turkey or lamb for Easter (or any other holiday), these recipes may help make greater use of your leftovers too.

Disclaimer: Please forgive any missing quantities or measurements. I cook like my mom and grandma: part alchemy, part inspiration, part magic and a whole lot of love.

What to do with left-over ham: Savory Split-Pea Soup

You’re probably thinking “ick.” But this split pea soup will delight even the biggest naysayer. (I know, because my husband loves it.) If you have a ham with the bone in, save it, wrap it well in parchment paper or a freezer bag and refrigerate overnight or freeze if it will be longer than a day or two before using. (Don’t forget to put the date on it.) Do the same with some of the meat.

Ingredients:
Ham bone (optional)
Left over ham—diced (about 1 cup)
1 16 oz package of split peas
vegetable or chicken stock/broth (about 6 cups)
Sea salt
1 T. Ground black pepper
1 T. Yellow curry powder
2 T. Cilantro or recaito
One onion peeled and diced
Several cloves of garlic diced or pressed
One to two whole carrots, peeled and sliced into disks
Olive oil
fresh parsley or cilantro
sour cream or half-and-half
optional: sherry or sauterne

Equipment:
Stock pot
Wooden spoon
Rubber spatula
Ladle
Blender or food processor

Directions:
1 Wash and drain peas. Set aside. (You can soak them in warm water while they are set aside.)
2 In the stock pot, place 2 T olive oil
3 On medium heat sautee the onion, garlic and 1 T cilantro until the onion is clear
4 Reduce heat slightly and add the ham, sautee for about five minutes
5 Reduce heat again and add 1 cup of stock/broth
6 Add in the ham bone and add more broth gradually until the bone is covered (if not using the ham bone skip to #10 )
7 Increase heat again to medium-high and bring to a low rolling boil
8 After mixture boils, reduce heat and simmer until the meat falls off of the bone
9 Carefully remove the bone from the liquid and discard
10 Add the remaining broth (you can substitute one of the cups of broth with water or dry white wine)
11 Add the peas, carrots, 1 T of recaito or cilantro, 1 t of curry and the salt and pepper
12 Increase heat again and bring to a rolling boil
13 Reduce heat, cover and let simmer until the peas are tender (use a the back of a spoon and see if you can smush the peas against the side of the pot)
14 Remove from heat and let cool about 10 minutes
15 Carefully ladle the mixture into the blender or food processor
16 Add remaining curry (or more to taste) and blend until a velvety smooth texture and a uniform color
17 Remove from blender/food processor with a rubber spatula and serve in bowls
18 Sprinkle a bit more curry over the top and add a dollop of sour cream or swirl half-and-half in gently to the soup in small measures.
19 Garnish with a sprig of parsley or fresh cilantro and serve.

This soup can be served warm or cold. It also can be served in bread bowls for a fun touch. And, as a vegetarian option, skip the meat steps use vegetable stock. For added texture, use diced potatoes instead of meat, and add when adding the carrots and peas. Use the potatoes as the gauge for when to remove the mixture from the heat and blend.

Next on beyond the sandwich, ideas for left over turkey.

Posted in Uncategorized, Cooking, Holidays, Healthy Eating, Guest Blogger | No Comments »

Computer Maintainence: Start-up Options

Clearing Your Start-up

When cleaning your family computer, the first thing you should clear is the first thing that loads when you computer starts. This is the start-up and tells your computer what programs to allow to run when the whole system starts.

The problem with many computers is that there are a ton of programs running in the ‘background’ and will slow down a system considerably. Follow these instructions to help speed the loading of your system and performance in general.

Instructions.

First, go to your start button. If you are using Windows Vista, this button will appear as a round button on the bottom left corner of your screen. In the very bottom of the choices is a box that says ‘Start Search’. In this type area put ‘msconfig’.

This will bring up a new box on your screen, System Configuration. Choose (click) the Startup tab. Uncheck ALL of the boxes on the tabbed screen if there are any checked. Your computer will tell you that the changes will take effect after your next restart.

Restart your computer now. When the system loads, you should notice a difference in speed.

Quick List For Reference.

Start Button >Search: Msconfig

System Configuration > Startup> Uncheck All > Restart

Posted in Uncategorized, Computers and Technology | No Comments »

Brooke Hogan Feeling Effects Of Dad’s Infidelity.

Brooke Hogan lashed out at her former best friend on her Myspace blog, though the post has since been removed, for sleeping with her famous father, Hulk Hogan.

The WWE Superstar recently was divorced from his wife of 21 years. He had been having an affair with his singer/reality show star daughter’s best friend who is 33. According to the mistress, she and Hogan had began to see each other when Hogan and his wife had privately decided their marriage was over.

Brooke Hogan had posted:

“I think she shoulda thought about what kinda press she was gonna get when she slept with her best friend’s famous father … I think we’re all seeing just exactly how karma works Christiane. Nothing you say will ever put my family back together.”

There was more, but the starlet removed the post after deciding that the situation should be dealt with out of the public eye.

It is a sobering reminder that children are affected by divorce and infidelity no matter who they are and their age.

Posted in Uncategorized, News Items | No Comments »

March Guest Blogger!

I’d like to introduce this months’ Guest Blogger, Erika-Marie Geiss.

Erika is the Editor in Chief of the new WAHM Magazine located at http://www.wahmmagazine.net . She is a mother, a writer, and a good friend. She will be posting right after me, so let’s give her a wamr welcome to Family Resource!

Posted in Uncategorized, Guest Blogger | No Comments »

Teens and Open Discussion

My oldest daughter and I had a conversation about sex yesterday. I tried to play it cool, but inside I was in a turmoil. She is 14 and very interested in boys. I can remember that age well, very well. My daughter thinks and says to me all the time that I am ‘cool’. We like the same music, enjoy the same style of dress, and I do not judge her for her choices.

It may not look like it, but each and every time we have a conversation about something that is deep and this important, I hold myself back from giving what she would say is ‘uncool’ advice. Condemning her or her friends for that sip of alcohol, throwing a literal fit over the fact that she has a friend who smokes pot, and restraining myself from interrogating her on her activities when she is with her boyfriend.

It isn’t the fact that I care if she thinks I am cool or uncool. No, I feel that to have my child trust me, I have to trust her to make her own decisions. While we talk together about personal things quite often, it is nice to know I am the only person she confides her deepest thoughts to. She feels safe enough to tell me her concerns about her friends who drink, the ones who smoke pot, and to express that she just isn’t ready to have sex yet.

It isn’t always easy to be the open and accepting parent. You can feel as if you are being punched in the stomach at some of the things your child tells you. But when they tell you, with real sincerity in their voices, along with relief, that you are the only person they feel as if they can turn to and be so open. It is so worth it.

Is your child open with you? If not, are you willing to step back and let your child make a few choices without judging? This may be the step you need to take to become closer with your child. Please share your thoughts.

Posted in Uncategorized, Adolescence | No Comments »

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